Also includes a short discussion about Anglophone anti-crime measures, including a second question, and references a study on framing.
My anti-Christ has exactly the same message as the original version; don't kill, don't steal, be nice, and so on. However, unlike the original, he not somewhat convincing, or very convincing, he is absolutely 100% convincing. It is physically impossible to argue with him and not to be convinced to be 100% moral for the rest of your life, in such a way that you absolutely never give into temptation.
He uses these magical persuasive skills to convince people to spread his message and let him convince everyone on Earth, dropping crime rates in every metropolis and every god-forsaken hole to zero. All wars cease. Trade flourishes, and everyone is just generally super-nice to everybody else.
The first downside is that he IS the anti-Christ. He tortures, he kills, he steals. In fact sometimes in the middle of (successfully) convincing a crowd not to kill, he whips out an uzi and starts gunning people down. "Furthermore killing hurts." B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-BANG BANG BANG "See? It's not just terrible in the ways I've said before. Also..." He provides for himself entirely through theft. If he has to buy something, it's always with stolen money. If you offer him a donation he'll rip your arm off, beat you to death with it, then steal the money from your children. He is not just evil, he is infinitely hypocritical, and therefore infinitely evil. No matter how repugnant an act you imagine, he will one-down you and do something worse.
The second downside is that as soon as he dies, nobody will be 100% successful at convincing everyone to be moral. A new crop of brutal barbarians and criminals will grow up and go back at it as usual.
At first I used this to prove that hypocrisy cannot be evil per se. Evil, in my view, was evil, regardless of what you told others about it, and if you advocated not-evil, then that was inherently a good thing to do. Now that I have proved the opposite, it remains a proof that ad hominem is a fallacy.
Now I have a different question. A question of responsibility, of choosing who lives and who dies.
Assume you have the opportunity to kill the anti-Christ. He has injured himself, and as a surgeon, you could refuse to operate and he would simply bleed out and die.
If you don't, are you responsible for the death of the people he murders? If you do, are you responsible for the deaths that would not have otherwise occurred?
It sucks to be faced with that choice, even on a small scale. If you can kill (or, I suppose, let die) one fairly healthy but socially disrespected person to save Stephen Hawking, the littlest cancer patient, and Mother Theresa* with their organs, are you responsible?
*(Her perception, not her reality, which was grotesque.)
Certainly, in all cases, you're responsible in the sense that you are part of the causal chain of those deaths. Absent a surgeon, his murders cannot take place. Absent a surgeon who refuses to operate, all those war-deaths cannot occur.
Now, in the real world the answer is a lot easier, because you cannot fully predict the actions of human beings. For instance, if you leave your bike unlocked somewhere, absent a thief it cannot be stolen. This is the proof that rape victims cannot have been 'asking for it' because absent a rapist they could not have been raped. Leaving a bike, or even a million bucks, on a pedestal on a busy road, no matter how little security you put on it, doesn't make it not theft to take it. You did not agree to have it taken.* It is impossible to give license for evil. If you as surgeon operate on a real world criminal, it doesn't make you responsible for his future crimes, even though they would have been impossible without you. He could have repented, but didn't, a fact which is not your fault.
*(On the other hand, there are non-moral considerations. If you do this, yes it's theft to have it stolen, but expecting to keep it is just dumb. The cops should spend no effort tracking it down. I am uneasy about what this might mean regarding rape, but the upshot is that you should always provide yourself with security, to whatever degree is necessary to reasonably ensure security. Going to the cops after a rape is much much worse than being able to stop it yourself. Which I guess means cops a very last resort, as security goes, and should never be relied upon.)
This option is not available for the anti-Christ. He is by definition infinite evil, and will never repent. He is more like a natural disaster than a person. But the question still applies, and without all these real-world distractions, I can actually analyze moral theory to see if its consistent.
From various places, most recently this;
"Framing effects were first explored by Tversky and Kahneman (1981). In a famous experiment, they asked some subjects this question:They have completely neglected this idea. In the first, option B (possibly)* makes you responsible for 200 deaths, where option A has no possibility of this. In the second, C makes you (possibly) reponsible for 400 deaths, whereas D isn't really clear.
Imagine that the U.S. is preparing for an outbreak of an unusual Asian disease which is expected to kill 600 people. Two alternative programs to fight the disease, A and B, have been proposed. Assume that the exact scientific estimates of the consequences of the programs are as follows: If program A is adopted, 200 people will be saved. If program B is adopted, there is a 1/3 probability that 600 people will be saved, and a 2/3 probability that no people will be saved. Which program would you choose?
The same story was told to a second group of subjects, but these subjects had to choose between these programs:
If program C is adopted, 400 people will die. If program D is adopted, there is a 1/3 probability that nobody will die and a 2/3 probability that 600 will die.
It should be obvious that programs A and C are equivalent, as are programs B and D. However, 72% of the subjects who chose between A and B favored A, but only 22% of the subjects who chose between C and D favored C. More generally, subjects were risk-averse when results were described in positive terms (such as “lives saved”) but risk-seeking when results were described in negative terms (such as “lives lost” or “deaths”)."
*(Depends directly on the answer to this question.)
To see this, take no option. All 600 people die. Option A definitly saves 200, whereas B possibly doesn't. Taking no option in the second scenario is not possible; the framing is such that you might save everyone, but option C makes you directly responsible (possibly) for 400 deaths. It suggests that your treatment is somehow killing people, and that others are just fortunately immune, though if you think about it this can't be the case.
Shockingly, people answer these questions differently! While there is other research to back up the idea that people are risk-averse, including my own personal experience, this particular experiment is at best neutral on the question.
(Incidentally, this illustrates why philosophy is so important. In real life, responsibility is far from clear in many similar situations. Ambiguity begets uncertainty which allows the unscrupulous to steer the application of responsibility to their own ends. Any examples you can think of would be welcome.)
But originally I bring this up to illustrate the hideous choice. I'm going to slightly modify it; in no scenario do you save everyone. You choice is definitely saving 200, or killing everyone or saving 500. (To make it perfect, I would also have to modify the probabilities.) You know in advance which 200 will be saved, and it's different than the 500 who will be saved; half of the 200 will die. It is not statistical as is the assumption in epidemiology; you know for certain. Along with this you can find out any other information you want about the 600 people in question.
So, do you risk the lives of those 200 people for a chance at saving half of them plus another 400 people? Or do you sacrifice the possible lives of 400 people for the sake of definite lives of 200?
How do you decide who lives, and who dies?
Hopefully your answer also solves this apparent inconsistency; my intuition is that you're still not responsible for the anti-Christ, either way. (Of course you should let him live, regardless.)
However, in all situations where it's not who lives versus who dies, you are responsible. Going back to my comment about how cops should be last-line defense against crime, nobody in our society is doing the medical analogy of first line; preventing criminals from forming the first place, analogous to not eating carcinogens or avoiding mosquitoes in malaria areas. (The second line being vaccines, which prevent disease even after exposure, the third being early-stage treatment, like chemo on a tumour, and the fourth and final, analogous to cops, is full-blown surgery.)
I think that we are resopnsible for the crimes that are committed because nobody is doing first-line defence. I think that makes us, as Anglophone society, evil, and the longer we don't the more crimes were are responsible for. It's difficult to pin down responsibility to the exact individuals, because life is messy, but the fact remains that somebody is responsible. I think that we are responsible for crimes that occur because very few people are doing second-line defence, making crime difficult to pull off at all. And finally, we are responsible for the crimes that occur because our third-line defences tend to either empower or victimize our young criminals, rather than doing much of anything that might result in them being less criminal.
But actually, the reason I bring this up is that despite the lack of these defences, I have never personally witnessed a crime, nor has anyone I know personally been a victim. (Wait! That's not strictly true. My bike's back wheel was stolen once. This was, however, as the bikes above, mostly my fault. It's a bike and I totally don't think it counts.) I have heard of a couple of burglaries third-hand, but those were parts of a series of burglaries that just increase the likelihood of being caught.
Something is doing first-line defence, but it's not being done intentionally by anybody; the expertise doesn't exist, so it's impossible. I want to know what it is, because it's like we already had such an anti-Christ, who did convince lots of people not to commit crimes. If so, then it would be highly advantageous to expand this first-line defence. With just this, it may even be possible to entirely replace the State.